Student Shares Her Experience with Hunger Amidst COVID-19

Chloe Kohl, Colorado State fourth year, walks up in a frantic to a coffee shop on campus in ripped jeans and an oversized t-shirt. She’s moving in a frantic and puts her belongings on the table in front of us. “Sorry, I’m late,” she stumbles out of her mouth. Kohl, 24, and full-time working, single mother of a young boy is a student on campus who has been facing food insecurity since the COVID-19 pandemic. She sat down to talk with me about her experiences on hunger and being a non-traditional college student. As someone utilizing Colorado State and Fort Collins food resources, she explained her experiences and what has helped her through fighting food insecurity.

Q: How has your experience been throughout college with food insecurity?

A: As a non traditional college student, I have a lot on my plate financially. I am a single mother and I pay for my own rent as well as tuition. When you start to add school supplies and transportation costs on top of that…thing’s get pretty pricey. I know my first priority is to feed my son, so when costs are running low, I sometimes have had to cut my own diet a little bit. I have gone through some good and some bad times depending on the circumstances

Q: You said you’ve been through some difficult times depending on the circumstances. How has the pandemic affected your access to food?

A: The pandemic has taken a very hard hit on my finances. I lost my full time job due to cuts. I used to work at a restaurant, but when the pandemic worsened they let a lot of people go. It has been really hard for me to support myself only on unemployment and not getting the steady income that I used to receive. Usually my own health is the first to go, because I know I need to pay my tuition because this work will pay off one day.

Q: Have you been able to have any income?

A: I have found a new job, but the income is not as good as my last job, which has impacted my living significantly.

Q: When things are bad, what do you eat?

A: I eat a lot of cheap and unhealthy foods. Anything I can afford really.

Q: Have you noticed any impacts from an unhealthy diet?

A: I can’t focus on school, because I am not getting enough nutrients and I notice it also affects my mood. I am different around my son. My grades and my personal relationships begin to suffer when I am not eating healthy or enough food for an extended period of time.

Q: Do you feel your university has assisted you in this time?

A: I do feel very supported by this community. Even though times are very difficult, I know I will never have no option. The resources the university has provided has really made all the difference for me. I have a hard time accepting help, and in the past was wary to use university resources, but now am very grateful that I have.

Q: What resources have helped you?

A: The pocket pantries have been a huge assistance to me for non perishable foods and snacks. Ram Ride’s program for meal delivery has also been very helpful. I also have a number of meal swipes available through the school, which has allowed me to access meals on campus. I am extremely grateful for these programs, they have made the difference between hunger and health this semester.

Q: Are there any other resources that have helped you?

Fort Collins is a very supportive community. Not only have I received help from classmates or friends, but also from restaurants such as the FoCo Cafe that offers free food to our community. Food insecurity is a real problem, and I am grateful for the fact that our university and city are taking steps to address it.

Links for resources for Food Insecurity in Fort Collins

Rams Against Hunger

Pocket Pantries

Ram Ride Food Ops

Foco Cafe